From WTO to CPTPP: What Makes the Consideration of China and Taiwan’s Accessions Different?

Written by Jacques deLise. In 2000-2001, China and Taiwan entered the World Trade Organization (WTO). Their admittance to the central institution of the international economic order was, in effect, a package deal that became possible with the assent of the United States, which had been a last principal obstacle to Beijing’s long-sought membership. Two decades later, China and Taiwan have applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for a Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP). This arrangement emerged from the larger Trans-Pacific Partnership after the US opted out. The two bids face major challenges, including those born of changes in the international stature and posture of each of Taiwan, China, and the United States.

How Vital is the CPTPP Membership to Taiwan?

Written by Yun-Chieh Wang. On September 22, 2021, six days after the Chinese government submitted its application to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), the Taiwanese government handed in its application to the depository in New Zealand. According to World Trade Organisation (WTO) data, Taiwan ranks as the top 15 goods export and the top 18 goods import economy in 2020. However, Taiwan has only signed a few trade agreements with its trading partners and cannot join critical regional trade agreements such as Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). Therefore, participating in CPTPP is expected to promote Taiwan’s trade ties with the trade partners effectively.

A Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP): A Game of Go? Or Three-dimensional Chess?

Written by Chun-Yi Lee and Michael Reilly. The CPTPP is an ambitious, wide-ranging free trade agreement (FTA) signed between Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, New Zealand, Singapore, and Vietnam in March 2018. The CPTPP was originally named as the Trans-Pacific Partnership and comprised twelve members. However, after the Trump administration withdrew the USA from it in 2017, the remaining eleven countries reorganised and renamed it. After leaving the EU, the UK applied to join in February 2021, followed by China and Taiwan in September. South Korea has been considering joining but has yet to do so. Countries seeking to join the bloc must negotiate tariffs and other market access conditions with each of the eleven original members. 

Worldpride 2025 and Taiwan’s Place in Global Queer Politics 

Written by Ting-Fai Yu. Unquestionably, the global visibilities of Taiwan’s recent human rights achievements, such as the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2019, must have contributed to the voting members’ confidence in having WorldPride held there. However, while Taiwan’s LGBT development has served as an exemplar to which many non-Western countries, especially those in Asia, aspire, it is essential to note that progressive legal changes are not necessarily representative of how queerness is lived culturally.

USA, China, and Taiwan: Post-Endemic Strategies for a New Global Economy

Written by Ian Inkster. Joe Biden’s recent scooping up of the fog of ‘strategic ambiguity,’ the seldom re-specified policy of the USA towards China in the case of an overt attack on Taiwan, was made in haste but has set the tail of the cat alight and its very colour in doubt. In Japan, Biden warned that China was ‘flirting with danger’ and then admitted that the US would defend Taiwan against invasion by China as contra to the Ukraine case. He was then asked directly if the US would defend Taiwan militarily if China invaded, when it has not done so in the invasion of Russia against Ukraine.

Three Times is a Charm: President Biden’s Taiwan Remarks in Tokyo

Written by Gerrit van der Wees. At a press conference on 23 May 2022, President Biden – who was in Tokyo to attend a meeting of the Quadrilateral Security Dialogue and the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Forum (IPEF) – was asked by CBS reporter Nancy Cordes: “You didn’t want to get involved in the Ukraine conflict militarily for obvious reasons. Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan if it comes to that?” “Yes,” Mr Biden answered flatly. “You are?” the reporter followed up. “That’s the commitment we made,” he said.

Health for Whom, from Where, and by What? Story(ies) About a Medical Mission from Taiwan to Africa

Written by Chia-Shuo Tang. This article is a story about Taiwan’s multi-million US dollars health aid in an African country and its aftermath. It involves two hospitals, some doctors, several aid agencies, and a global pandemic intersecting at the dawn of the 21st century. In addition, this story is about how a Taiwanese hospital turned a bilateral medical aid mission into a non-governmental endeavour after severing diplomatic ties between the two countries. 

Hard Cash or Soft Values? Assessing the ‘Lithuanian Model’ of Eastern European Relations with China and Taiwan

Written by Dominika Remžová. Over the last year and a half, Lithuania has been at the forefront of the EU’s improving relations with Taiwan and worsening relations with China. This culminated with Lithuania leaving the 17+1 framework of cooperation between China and 17 (now 16) eastern European countries on the one hand and the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius on the other. The two events occurred in May and November 2021, respectively, with the latter being particularly controversial, as China argued that the denomination ‘Taiwanese’ breached the EU’s One China policy, which led to the imposition of Chinese economic sanctions on Lithuanian products. However, as Lithuania’s economic relations with China are negligible, at least when compared to western European countries, Beijing made the unprecedented move of targeting EU-wide supply chains that contain Lithuanian products. This effectively escalated the bilateral disagreement to the EU level, with the bloc filing a WTO case against China.

Cultivating Support from a Distance: The Transnational Activism of Taiwan Alumni Associations in Southeast Asia

Written by Ratih Kabinawa. Since Tsai Ing-wen won power in 2016, Taiwan has experienced increased international isolation. Beijing stepped up its offensive policy toward Taiwan by blocking Taipei’s participation in international forums, for example, in the WHA, WHO, and International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO). The PRC also exercised its dollar diplomacy to push Taiwan’s remaining diplomatic allies to switch recognition from Taiwan to China. As a result, during Tsai’s first term (2016-2020), Taiwan lost its major diplomatic allies, leaving the country with only thirteen diplomatic allies. Consequently, the Taiwanese government has looked to overseas communities to enhance its image and visibility, including Taiwan alumni associations. The Tsai administration has given these overseas communities a significant role under Taiwan’s New Southbound Policy (NSP). 

Cat-Warriors vs Wolf Warriors: How Taiwan Promotes Its Brand in the Face of a More Assertive China

Written by Simona Grano. According to China, Taiwan is a splinter province to be re-conducted under Beijing’s sphere of influence at all costs; likewise, China forbids international recognition of Taiwan under its “One China” principle. Through dealing with such hindrances for decades, the island has become skilled at swerving Chinese diplomatic aggression. Taiwan uses its soft – or “cat warrior” – diplomatic power to counter attacks on its sovereignty, promoting itself as a freedom-loving, peaceful nation in contrast to a belligerent China.

Taiwan’s Asylum Policy: A Lack of Political Will to Implement the Law?

Written by Kristina Kironska. Taiwan is considered one of the most progressive countries in Asia but has no asylum law. Although debates on the issue occasionally occurred for more than ten years, there has been no progress on the draft asylum law since its second reading in 2016. One significant point of contention is to what extent an asylum law should address not only people from “uncontroversial” foreign countries, such as the Rohingya in Bangladesh, but also people from China, Hong Kong, and Macau. As with any issue that touches on cross-strait relations, the situation is complicated: on the one hand, the government celebrates Taiwan’s status as a beacon of human rights; on the other, extending asylum to PRC citizens risks stoking tensions with Beijing. 

Taiwan’s Middle Power Humanitarian Diplomacy

Written by Huynh Tam Sang. As the resurrection of great-power politics has tragically befallen smaller powers, Taiwan has enhanced its agency via embracing humanitarian diplomacy and has sought a meaningful role in the global arena by supporting like-minded countries. The lesson from Taiwan’s humanitarian diplomacy is that when democracy is exposed to challenges, middle powers should potentially play a responsible role by investing in diplomatic support and humanitarian aid to vulnerable people.

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